I recently found this little jewel on eBay. It was listed as a French Briar, but it had a unique charm to it that no one else seemed to see. I got it for not even a song, just a clearing of the throat.
It came with this case which also needs attention. The case was marked with French Briar inside which, while it fits the pipe I don’t think came with the pipe originally.
The top of the rim had what appeared to be mold on it. Inside was not too bad as there was hardly any cake built up in it. The stem has nicks in it and the brass / gold sleeve was very dirty.
I gave the stem a bath in the Oxyclean for a couple of hours and the bowl after reaming with my Castleford reamer set of the lower three sizes, an alcohol bath over night. The Oxyclean did a great job of removing the tar and stains from the inside and outsides of the stem. The texture of the stem was rough. I had hoped to bring it up by sanding it first then buffing it. I saw the real amber structure come alive as I attempted to polish the amber with sanding sponges from 1200 to 6000 grits. Under a magnifying glass I could see very small bubbles and imperfections in the amber. As I sanded these imperfections were exposed and became open divots, though small, visible on the stem. As I was able to completely clean the inside of the stem I decided to just try to put some shine on the outside by using the buffing wheel. This worked very well and put a good shine to it.
The white specks are the opened bubbles. Not wanting to deteriorate the condition further I settled for the polishing wheel.
Next up was to clean out the bowl. I was happy to see that the spot that looked like mold disappeared after the alcohol bath. Using an old tooth brush I went over it with more alcohol and was able to remove all of the grime that the bath loosened and clear the grooves. They are very crisp all the way around. While the surface of the pipe is very good there is an underlying dark area round the front that looked like it was deep within the briar. When the bowl was wet it showed some very nice birdseye on one side and flame grain on the other. Leaving it alone I let it dry, then using OxBlood Red leather stain gave it several coats and flamed it to set.
I gave it a coat of beeswax and a buff.
In researching the Real Amber WDC connection I was able to find an identical shank sleeve on a straight Real Amber WDC that they dated at 1890. I would like to believe that this is one from the same time but before I claim it I will continue to research the dating wherever I can.
A friend of mine had me Reserect another of his old pipes and this one is similar to one of the last I did for him, a Savinelli Punto Oro poker. This, he said, was his favorite pipe and by the condition it was in I would agree. it was the most smoked of the four by far.
In looking at the chip in the rim I had the thought to try to taper the rest of the rim. But, after I reamed it out I found a slight crack that I worried may effect the integrity of the pipe if I removed material near it. The stem had several very deep tooth marks in both the top and bottom of the stem that I have not attempted to work on before and was unsure as to the outcome.
I did ask Steve Laug of Reborn Pipes how to best approach this. Thanks Steve for the advise. He suggested that I use a small heat source such as a lighter to gently raise the divots and not to get it too hot as to melt the vulcanite. Well… That part scared me so I delayed in getting this done (I was asked in May to do this…). I did not want to ruin a friends pipe!
Next thing I did was to finish cleaning the bowl and stem. I soaked the stem in a mild Oxyclean solution and used Everclear and pipe cleaners on the stem to complete the cleaning. The bowl was given an alcohol and salt bath for about 2 hours and the outside was washed with alcohol and cotton to clean the grime off.
The next thing I needed to overcome my fear of the flame and get the tooth marks out of the stem. I inserted a pipe cleaner into it and held a flame briefly under it. Several of the divots raised a good bit. Not wanting to risk damage to the vulcanite I stopped and sanded with sponges from 1200 to 12000 grit.
I used beeswax on the bowl and Brebbia pipe and stem cleaner on the stem to bring up the shine. Then using a flannel rag I polished the entire pipe.
This is my latest eBay buy.
You can see that this is in need of more of a good cleaning than a reserection. The bowl is in good shape and the stem, while very oxidized, has no major dents or scrapes and the emblem is in good shape as well.
First up was to ream the bowl and give it an alcohol cleaning with pipe cleaners and Everclear. The stem I inspected and covered the logo with Vaseline to soak in an Oxyclean / water solution to loosen the oxidation. The next step was to immerse the bowl in isopropyl alcohol and let it soak for a couple of hours. When I took it out it went into a rice container to help dry it. The rice will pull out the moisture and dry it nicely. This is a trick electronics techs use when they get wet and you want to make sure it is dry before you power it up. Good to know if you drop a cell phone in water. When doing a salt and alcohol bath the rice also allows me to sit the bowl at the best angle to maximize the alcohol and not have it leak out.
The next several pictures show the progress on the stem, bringing it back to a nice shine. Starting with 220 grit flexible sandpaper and moving through the entire range of sponges up to 12000 grit you can see the finish come back. I used care not to get too close to the logo and damage it. I needed to use the pick to clear out some stubborn tar out of the bit.
I was thinking how I might give this a nice contrast to go with the finish contrast. I used the sanding sponges on the smooth areas that have geometric shapes. On the rusticated area I went with Black leather dye. I have long admired this combination in a number of pipe makers offerings. I still need to work on my technique to get the lines cleaner.
As I continue to learn more and more via experience I am encouraged by reading the blogs of Steve Laug and Upshallfan to see how veterans approach their work. A contributor to Reborn Pipes, Troy, has shown that you can be daring in reworking a pipe and get great results. Thanks to you all for the fine work you post.
In a batch of bowls I bought on eBay was this smooth Dr. Grabow Royal Duke.
I started this Reserection back in July, but kept getting sidetracked and not getting it done. The finish and bowl were in real good shape. There was only one small fill on it.
First thing was to ream it with my Castleford reamer starting with the smallest and working up till I was just touching the bare wood, not wanting to go into it. Next was to give it an alcohol bath inside and out to clean out the prior owners remnants.
After the dusting and cleaning I had to make a stem for it.
Using the PIMCO Tenon Tool I cut the stem down to get a close fit and hand sanded it the rest of the way to make it complete.
First using emory paper and then working throughout the micro sanding sponges from 1200 to 12000 grit. This stem had a very large diameter and had to be brought down with the Dremal tool to get to the right size. I have a LOT to learn about how to do this step correctly to maintain the flow of the lines. While this was a functional success it leaves a lot to be desired in the best form category. Practice should improve this part of my education.
After the alcohol bath I used Oxblood Red stain to restain the bowl. I flamed it to set it and then took it to the buffer to bring up the shine.
I would put this in the ugly pipe category but, it should smoke ok for a long time to come.